Guitar piece – untitled (as yet)

Some of the score of the second movement. Apparently I like semiquavers.

Right now what I’m writing as I’m writing this blog is a solo guitar piece.

A longer piece

I’m basically writing it because I wanted to compose a longer piece for the guitar than the ones I’ve often seen. I used to feel that there were too many short pieces of not much more than a page or two, or pieces like suites with several shortish movements. While the guitar’s repertoire has expanded greatly and become enriched with all manner of styles in the last decades, my desire for longer pieces still remains. 

Ideas

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I thought it was time write some serious guitar music. This is more or less the beginning of that.

The most important thing here then is to write something – this means that rather than taking months to go deep into my artistic psyche and soul, contemplating how to explore the timbral qualities of the instrument and brooding upon what this piece might say about me as a composer in this world in 2018, I’m going bash out something that has more of an improvised quality and is fun to play. We’ll see. Sometimes preventing rumination on single notes is impossible.

I also want to write pieces I can play, which helps to add a dimension of technical realism to it, i.e. not write things that are too difficult, and thus increase the chance of other guitarists being able to enjoy it as well.

Several movements

I found myself thinking “multi-movemently”, with the urge to compose a piece with about four or five separate parts that were different in character. I’m not about to write another suite though, I hope, and I reckon there are enough already – at least four that were good enough not to mess with. A sonata might be closer to how I was thinking, but I wasn’t about to start meddling with sonata form – there’s probably been enough of that too. The important thing is just to compose with the sort of musical character and materials I had in mind.

Four or five

The structure of all the movements in terms of their character will basically be:

  1. Fast and rhythmic, brutal 
  2. Quite fast and rhythmic, smoother
  3. Slow and intense
  4. Humorous, somewhat erratic; moderate tempo.
  5. Faster and rhythmic, brutal 

Character

You might have got a sense that the element of „force“ figures here, you might have noticed that the word „brutal“ appears twice. Probably something to do with the fact that I like music like that, but also with the intention of going beyond the intimate, delicate, nice and gentle character that the classical guitar tends to have. Not that I want to stop the guitar being like this, it’s just I want more badassness in the repertoire. 

Next time

In the next post I’ll tell you about some specifics of how I’m composing the second movement, which is where I’m starting, with some of the sheet music too.

A Narrative

Guitar pieces brainstorm

Here begin the chronicles of my musical compositions. This is far from the beginning of my journey into music, but the start of me documenting it so closely.

The final manifestation of the finished piece when it’s performed on stage is only a fraction of what goes into it, and I believe there is value in sharing this with you. 

Each post is a chapter in this narrative, and with me you will follow the evolution of a piece of music from the ideas that give birth to it, through its gradual manifestation in note form, its successes and failures, to it being brought to life in performance.

As it moves from its infancy to maturity, changes are made, obstacles are encountered, and there are troubles and triumphs. I hope that by showing you how a piece progresses towards its finished state, we can all learn together.

Composing for the guitar

The instrument I am referring to is usually called the “classical” guitar. Although I love composing for any kind of musical medium from the most minimal to the enormous, the guitar is what you’ll most see here because:

  • The “classical” guitar is my instrument, and the one that has followed me round the world for the past 25 years or so.
  • With it I can show you the entire process of a piece of music being brought to life first-hand.
  • For those less used to reading scores, I can play it for you, and the one-stave format is also reasonably easy to follow.
  • The guitar is an instrument that is difficult to compose for if you don’t play it yourself. Rather than just follow a manual of dos and don’ts, you can learn from how someone who is a composer and guitarist tackles the whole process.
  • Most importantly for me, I feel I owe the guitar a serious body of work.

Considering the years I mentioned, I am still only really at the beginning of my journey as far as writing for the guitar is concerned, with just a handful of pieces and transcriptions. I did write a piece for guitar and orchestra that was performed in the Córdoba Guitar Festival in July 2012 though: “From Shimmers on Dust Clouds”, played by the very talented guitarist María José Tirador and conducted by Ciro Perelló with the Young “Leo Brouwer” Philharmonic.

Now it is clear that it is time for me to develop a serious body of work for the instrument. I invite you to share this journey with me, learning with me from what we discover along the way, and very much hope you enjoy the music.

Next

The next post includes the score of the first part of the first piece you’ll see and hear chronicled in this blog and why I’m writing it. It will be a piece for solo guitar with several movements.

-Roni

Introduction

Music lovers, guitarists and composers, welcome.

This blog is about showing you how I compose music, and sharing it with you. My instrument is the guitar, so you’ll see posts on my compositions, my guitar playing, and things related both of general musical interest and more technical.

You’ll see the scores I write, with posts about how I’m writing them while I’m writing them, and the ideas that create them. I’ll also endeavour to post videos of them being played.

Music lovers – through the stories behind the music-making of how a piece is born what it has to go through until you hear it, I hope to deepen your enjoyment and appreciation of music and the guitar.

Guitarists – as well as regular posts of original scores, you see advice on how to approach playing the music with interpretative and technical details, both in written and video format.

Composers – you’ll see concrete examples with explanations and explorations of compositional technique on page and in performance. The music will mostly be for the guitar, allowing me to play it for you, and giving you the chance to see how writing works for this rather idiomatic instrument with its unique musical palette.

I very much welcome and would be grateful for your questions and comments about anything in this blog and the pieces from the simplest to the most technical, from general ideas to single notes using the comments box or links below. I would also be delighted to hear from you if you want to chat about anything related to the content here.

I aim to make a post once a week, so be sure to check back later!

The next post discusses some further points about the nature of this blog and how the guitar is involved.

I also very much hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I do making it!

-Roni